Amidst the transition to the virtual set up, as well as experiencing personal hurdles, the Benilde Well-Being Center (BWC) and Benilde’s Center for Lasallian Ministry (CLM) share the experience of what it’s like to help the community with their well-being and faith during a global pandemic.
As the Benildean community strives to continue college life in the virtual space, we gain strength from offices who continue to open their arms and lend a hand. Behind these are individuals who experience the same waves and quakes as we all encounter.
Those who help us mentally
One of these offices is the Benilde Well-Being Center (BWC) which has been helping students with their mental well-being. With a spike in students who use their teletherapy services and a need for an adjustment to online servicing, it was clear that the pandemic has affected the center’s status quo.
But, of course, even those who help others need the care and rest every person deserves.
In an interview with The Benildean, BWC Director El Anelio Barnachea shared that some personnel were getting sick and that they had to fill in and take in more work than usual. Even his work prior to the day of the interview increased from four to eight sessions.
“Kita mo talaga ‘yung pagod,” he chuckles before continuing, “At a certain point, may hangganan talaga.” Despite this, they choose to prioritize the community with whatever concern, considering the possibility of a critical case. “Even in the middle of the night, some of the students would send us text messages,” he says, as these would be critical cases at times as well.
Despite all these challenges, they were able to adjust face-to-face services to fit the online set up. BWC continues to serve and makes sure everyone in the center still takes time to continue their wind down traditions. What used to be an eating out experience and hanging out every term are now online calls every two months as they check up on each other.
Those that help us in faith
Amidst tougher times, CLM continues to share the importance of the Lasallian Core Value of Faith. For Edwardson Juta, CLM Director and Benilde Associate Campus Minister, faith is what pushes us to help and continue living. Nevertheless, the Center found its path in helping the community with their faith that is riddled with hurdles to overcome.
Like many, the pandemic also caught them off-guard. There was the need to readjust their activities to fit the online set-up一from activities made for overnight sessions to a short three-hour Zoom call.
Apart from that, CLM also experiences Zoom fatigue when it comes to conducting the online Benilde Reflection Encounter (BeniRE) sessions.
Personally, Sir Juta puts his negative thoughts to rest with the culmination of the many meetings he attends, “It is really toxic, tiring, and draining.” But adapting with technology, his advocacy has also included having calls for fellowship such as games, online prayers, and reflections.
To successfully overcome the challenges, CLM is reminded of their purpose and their wishes for the community. Sir Juta highlights the desire for their services to be “breathing spaces” for everyone in the Benildean community.
“We want them to experience, at least temporarily, freedom from online work and studies, and to connect to people’s lives in the community [...] We want all of us to see things from the eyes of faith,” he shared.
A message for the community
Sir Barnachea shares the most important thing is having a center to help the community out, “Please know that we are always here for you [...] This is our simple contribution to the community. As much as possible when you feel down or stressed, please know that you have someone or a counselor to talk to who is very much willing to attend to your well-being.”
On the other hand, Sir Juta shares a message to the Benildean community, “God will never give instant answers to our questions. But we are assured of the grace that will accompany us to overcome whatever challenges we have right now.”
Even with the universal experience of the pandemic, there are those who are willing to always lend a hand; even if it means taking more of what they could and readjusting themselves to continue to help.